Note: This post is a copy of the email I sent our church, Bethel Church of Houston, in response to the violence in Washington, DC, and our national unrest.
The events of the last 24 hours in our nation’s Capitol have rocked the republic. If there was ever a time when we, as Christ-followers, should lead the way in demonstrating the values of our Lord Jesus, it is now.
How can we do this at such a time as this? Let us begin with prayer. Join me in 21 days of prayer for our country and our church starting this next week. I will speak to this more on Sunday.
Let me share with you six challenges I have reflected upon in these last 24 hours regarding how we can respond as followers of Jesus.
First, understand that God has power over politics. Isaiah 40: 22-23 states,
“He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.”
This does not mean His accounting will be soon or easy for us to understand. We may even be surprised by who and how this judgment is administered. Our country may still have God’s blessing in its future. God may be judging our country. Either way, we trust the sovereign one.
Second, we can have peace in the midst of trouble. John 16:33 states, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Third, to keep focused on these two previous truths, we need to be sure we focus our minds more on God’s word than social media or any media. Everyone has an agenda, and only God can keep us focused on his agenda. Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Fourth, it is time to stand for righteousness, including seeking justice, defending the fatherless, and pleading for the widow. As Isaiah 1: 16-17 states,
“Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
Before commenting on the practical aspects of this challenge, let me bring in my fifth reflection.
Fifth, be a peacemaker. Jesus stated in Matthew 5:19, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Being a peacemaker is not passive but is active by nature.
Professing believers of Jesus have justified the riots of 2020 as righteous anger, and a means to seek righteousness. Professing believers of Jesus have justified the riot in DC because of righteous anger and a means to seek justice. No matter one’s perceived justification, these actions do not align with Jesus’ call to be a peacemaker.
So, how do we simultaneously stand for righteousness and be a peacemaker? Let Jesus summarize it for us from Matthew 5:13-16,
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Let me suggest three ways to do this practically:
1) Serve, through hands-on means as well as financial help, the fatherless, oppressed, under-represented, and under-resourced in your community. There are many ways to do this. As a church, we have taken on this challenge through our Community Impact ministry.
2) Get involved in the political and government agencies that can effect change. Perhaps this means running for office. Perhaps it means serving on someone’s staff. Help get someone who holds biblical values elected.
3) Get involved in our educational system. The hearts and minds of our young people influence the future of our country.
Six and finally, keep the proclamation of the gospel central to your life’s calling. Jesus states in Mark 16:15, “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” The root issue is the heart and fallenness of man. The only true hope that exists for today and into eternity, long after the nations have raged, is the good news of the gospel.
I am praying fervently for you during this time. May His peace be upon you, and may His wisdom guide you.
Trusting in the One True God,
Wayne Smith, Pastor